For years in my career as a community pharmacist, I’ve spent a countless number of days going into work when I was sick.
The culture among pharmacists is such that you never get sick and – if you do – grin and bear it.
Once I was at work “grinning and bearing it” with a twisted ovary at eight weeks pregnant.
To give some context, that pain was worse than my labour pain but I took phone calls, dispensed and checked scripts, all whilst being doubled over in pain in the dispensary.
In that circumstance I ended up a few days later in emergency, with many vials of morphine and gowned up for an operation to remove my ovary and I was advised I could possibly lose my baby.
Fortunately my baby is now five and a half years old. I did not lose my ovary and, in a miraculous turn of events, it untwisted.
The point of this story is to emphasise that despite the intense pain I was in and the possible medical emergency, I still dutifully went to work, as I felt like a pharmacist cannot be sick.
I ultimately put my job before my unborn child... which was why, in a recent scenario, I was left despondent and sad at the lack of empathy some pharmacy owners can have to pharmacist illness.
I agreed to a weekend locum shift (a locum is a person who temporarily fulfils the duties of someone else) at a local pharmacy in a busy community, which had three other pharmacies in very close proximity. I had worked there before and have always been punctual and respectful to the business.
The night before the shift, as usual, I went to bed early at around 8pm.
At around 9pm, as I turned the lights off, I felt a little queasy and hot but thought nothing of it. I struggled to get to sleep and at around 10:30pm I was violently ill.
I immediately messaged the pharmacist whose shift I was covering to ask for the owner’s phone number so that I could contact him to advise him that it may be unlikely I would be there for the shift.
I proceeded to be violently ill at least 10 more times, as it turns out until 9am (when the shift was meant to start at 8am). I had vomited so much that my throat was burnt. I had been so ill, I couldn’t keep Hydralyte down.